Look familiar. . .
Even remotely aware of him. . .
The following might not be much more of a clue
to the World
or even to a select few:
On July 1, 2021, Rev. Dr. Roger Raymond Fischer, of Washington, was taken by God’s twin Angels, Goodness and Mercy, who came to pick Roger up, and they did. So God wrapped his arms around Roger and said, “Well done Good and Faithful Servant.” His was a life well done. Born June 1, 1941, in Washington, he was the son of Raymond and Louise Gartley Fischer.
Roger was a 1959 graduate of Washington High School. While in college, Roger worked as an American Red Cross, YMCA life guard and saving and swimming instructor. Roger received a Bachelor of Arts in Mathematics and Physics from Washington and Jefferson College in 1963. He received a Master’s Degree with Honors from the Lutheran Seminary at Gettysburg in 1991. In 1998, he was granted a Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary as the author of “Christian Advocacy and the Local Congregation.” Roger was ordained January 13, 1990, in First Lutheran Church, Washington. He served numerous churches in Southwestern Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The last congregations that he served were Calvary Lutheran in Scenery Hill, Buena Vista Presbyterian and Hyland Brotheran.
While working as a research engineer for Jones and Laughlin Steel, Roger was elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives from the 47th District, serving from 1966 to his retirement in 1988. At age 25 he was one of the youngest members to serve in the history of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, serving also as Chairman of the House Education Committee and on the State Board of Education. Roger served for nine terms as President of the Association of Retired Pennsylvania House of Representatives and Senate Members. He was elected to the Washington School Board in 1965 and inducted into the Pennsylvania Voter Hall of Fame for voting in every primary and general election since 1962.
Commissioned in 1966, Roger served as a Lieutenant Colonel U.S. Air Force Reserve. He was a member of the American Legion Post 175, 40 et 8, Sons of the American Revolution, and Sons of the American Revolution Chaplain. He was a Boy Scout merit badge counselor and a member of the Order of the Arrow. Roger was also a member of the Washington Lodge No, 164 Free & Accepted Masons, Washington Royal Arch Chapter No. 150, Jacques DeMolay Commandery No. 3 Knights Templar, and Noble of the Syria Shrine.
Roger enjoyed a lifetime of sports and fitness as demonstrated by becoming a two time finisher of the Ironman Triathlon in Hawaii. Additionally, he ran many other triathlons and marathons including Boston (four times), New York (four times), Pittsburgh, Honolulu and Philadelphia. At age 74, Roger completed the Disney World Marathon. He was a member of the Pennsylvania Council on Physical Fitness and was founder and race director of the “Washington Express” 10K run. In 2008, he bicycled across America in sections. Roger was inducted in Washington-Greene Chapter of the Pennsylvania Sports Hall of Fame and was unanimously elected to the Executive Committee. Roger was a life member of the Appalachian Trail Club, Keystone Trail Association, Warrior’s Trail Association and the Maine Appalachian Trail Club. Across 32 years, hiking in sections, Roger completed the entire 2,174.1 mile Appalachian Trail on September 17, 2004.
In 1998, Roger received an Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Washington and Jefferson College and delivered the Baccalaureate sermon for his son Steven’s commencement. In 1994, Roger delivered the main address for W&J’s Honors Convocation.
Roger treasured his time with his family. He enjoyed world traveling with his wife Kitty to places such as Europe, South Africa, Australia, Tahiti and China. He was very happy to have visited all the continents except Antarctica.
Roger is survived by Catherine “Kitty” Trettel Fischer, his wife of 48 years; two sons, Roger Raymond II (Marcia) and Steven Gregory (Heather); and a daughter, Catherine “Katy” (John) Herold; and five grandchildren, Abigail, John “Jack” and Maxwell Fischer, and Elijah and Ezekiel Herold; and a brother, Terry.
Obituaries are almost the Charlie Brown teacher of the newspaper or what’s left of them. They are the Wawa Wawa Wawa summations of Someone’s life. At best, they provide a summary of how a person was; what they leave behind, and specifically who is most affected because of their death. But make no mistake, there’s much, very much that they leave out.
Roger’s obituary gave no smidgen of a hint of all of the lives he Touched, specifically mine. I’ve heard it said that when we are born each of us are given a fingerprint which is distinctive to ourselves; it’s a fingerprint that no one else has or can ever have so that we can make an imprint on other lives that no one else can or ever will. Roger more than did that for, TO ME!
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Roger; but specifically he was a Sunday school teacher of mine in seventh and eighth grade and also taught our Catechism class at First Lutheran Church in Washington, Pennsylvania. It was there that I remember one Saturday morning when I was not allowed to go to basketball practice because I had to go to Catechism class at 9 o’clock in the morning and I literally erupted in the class, complaining about how stupid this was and how much I did not want to be there and how I really HATED the Church; ANY CHURCH! Even though there was about 14 or 15 in the class, Roger treating me like I was the only one that was there that day, at that moment and he didn’t react; he responded. The fact he congratulated me and told me how brave it was for me to speak my truth was huge and affirming. And then, with one simple question, he convicted, changed my life path:
“WHY DON’T YOU DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT?”
Which made me irrupt even further as if you could reload a fire crackers it was already burning hot.
“DO SOMETHING,!” I yelled. “I’M JUST 13 YEARS OLD! WHAT CAN I DO?”
And again, in pure Roger fashion, he replied back as if I was the only person there, the only person in the World that had his ear, his attention:
“ANOTHER GOOD POINT, CHARLIE, (something I hated anyone to call me) BUT IT HAS BEEN MY EXPERIENCE IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE SOMETHING, YOU DON’T COMPLAIN ABOUT IT FROM THE OUTSIDE, YOU GO INSIDE AND DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT!”
B U S T E D
and even more
C O N V I C T E D
Up until that point when people would ask me, “what are you gonna do when you grow up?” I would, without hesitation answer, I was going to be a professional basketball player and I was going to be a teacher and a coach but never, no way ever, EVER a minister.
Now countless times over the past nearly 50 years when people ask me why did you become a minister, they kind of wait for me to give him this great spiritual, unbelievable mountaintop experience testimony, and instead I tell them it’s because I hate the church and then I tell them the story about Roger and me one Saturday morning at a Catechism class that I didn’t want to be at, but now ever so grateful that I attended that day.
We kept in touch throughout the years and he knew the personal impact of that story because I made sure that I told him and with every chance that I got and profusely thanked him and the times I blamed him for what he did to me by making me go into the ministry. He told me never to expect an apology and I told him I wasn’t asking for one.
So after all the Wawa Wawa Wawa Wawa–ing of a Charlie Brown teacher during this blog, you may still not know personally Roger Raymond Fisher, or even care that much, but mine is a shore his Tsunami has radically wrecked that made it impossible to rebuild in a way my imagination could ever conjure up; it’s caused severely significant after shocks that have created tidal waves in me that have touched countless other shores, Roger had no understanding or fathoming; still are. Little did I know that Roger was A Caring Catalyst long before I knew what one was, let alone striving to be a better one each day. There’s only five true words that are left to be said by me. But oh my, are they most sincere:
SEE YOU LATER
WAWAWA THAT, Charlie